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Why learn about psychology in high school
C. Ultimately a political compromise was worked out. In order to comply with the law, without having a massive shift of students, the District's school officials decided to turn all public schools in Washington into neighborhood schools.
By this time, the neighborhood around Dunbar High School was rundown. This had not affected the school's academic standards, however, because black students from all over the city went to Dunbar, though very few of those who lived in its immediate vicinity did.
When Dunbar became a neighborhood school, the whole character of its student body changed radically-- and the character of its teaching staff changed very soon afterward. In the past, many Dunbar teachers had continued to teach for years after they were eligible for retirement because it was such a fulfilling experience. Now, as inadequately educated, inadequately motivated, and disruptive students flooded into the school, teachers began retiring, some as early as 55 years of age. Inside of a very few years, Dunbar became just another failing ghetto school, with all the problems that such schools have, all across the country. Eighty-five years of achievement simply vanished into thin air.
It is a very revealing fact about the politics of education that no one tried to stop this from happening. When I first began to study the history of this school, back in the 1970s, I thought that it was inconceivable that this could have been allowed to happen without a protest. I knew that the Washington school board in the 1950s included a very militant and distinguished black woman named Margaret Just Butcher, who was also a graduate of Dunbar High School, Surely Dr.
University of Chicago researcher Marianne Bertrand and Jessica Pan of the National University of Singapore investigated several mechanisms that might explain how a father’s absence could affect the educational attainment of sons more than daughters. They found that single mothers spend more time with girls and feel closer to girls than to boys, for example. More important, boys are far more sensitive than girls to parenting practices such as spending time with a child, emotional closeness, and avoiding harsh discipline. These practices, which are much more common in families that include a father, partly explain why boys with absent fathers have more behavior problems and are more likely to be suspended from school. Boys also respond more negatively than girls to having been raised by a teenage mother and to having grown up in a family with below-average income. Single motherhood is highly correlated with both teenage childbearing and low income, so these differences presumably help explain the unusually negative consequences for boys of growing up with a single mother.
January 2005 (I wrote this talk for a high school
Fourth, and in contrast to the group above, there is a type of workthat is traditionally but undeservedly given a prominent place in theannals of philosophy of education, and which thereby generates a greatdeal of confusion and misunderstanding about the field. These are thebooks and reflective essays on educational topics that were written bymainstream philosophers, a number of whom are counted among thegreatest in the history of the discipline. The catch is this: Evengreat philosophers do not always write philosophy! The reflectionsbeing referred to contain little if any philosophical argumentation,and usually they were not intended to be contributions to theliterature on any of the great philosophical questions. Rather, theyexpressed the author's views (or even prejudices) on educationalrather than philosophical problems, and sometimes—as in the caseof Bertrand Russell's rollicking pieces defending progressiveeducational practices—they explicitly were“potboilers” written to make money. (In Russell's case theroyalties were used to support a progressive school he was runningwith his then-current wife.) Locke, Kant, and Hegel also are amongthose who produced work of this genre. (It should be noted thatRussell also made serious contributions to philosophy of education ofthe technical sort discussed below. Cf. Hare 1987.)
There is a large—and ever expanding—number of worksdesigned to give guidance to the novice setting out to explore thedomain of philosophy of education; most if not all of the academicpublishing houses have at least one representative of this genre ontheir list, and the titles are mostly variants of the followingarchetypes: The History and Philosophy of Education, ThePhilosophical Foundations of Education, Philosophers onEducation, Three Thousand Years of Educational Wisdom,A Guide to the Philosophy of Education, and Readings inPhilosophy of Education. The overall picture that emerges fromeven a sampling of this collective is not pretty; the field lacksintellectual cohesion, and (from the perspective taken in this essay)there is a widespread problem concerning the rigor of the work and thedepth of scholarship—although undoubtedly there are islands,but not continents, of competent philosophical discussion of difficultand socially important issues of the kind listed earlier. On thepositive side—the obverse of the lack of cohesion—thereis, in the field as a whole, a degree of adventurousness in the form ofopenness to ideas and radical approaches, a trait that is sometimeslacking in other academic fields.
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C., there were four academic public high schools-- one black and three white. In standardized tests given that year, students in the black high school averaged higher test scores than students in two of the three white high schools.
This was not a fluke. It so happens that I have followed 85 years of the history of this black high school-- from 1870 to 1955 --and found it repeatedly equalling or exceeding national norms on standardized tests. In the 1890s, it was called The M Street School and after 1916 it was renamed Dunbar High School but its academic performances on standardized tests remained good on into the mid-1950s.
When I first published this information in 1974, those few educators who responded at all dismissed the relevance of these findings by saying that these were "middle class" children and therefore their experience was not "relevant" to the education of low-income minority children. Those who said this had no factual data on the incomes or occupations of the parents of these children-- and I did.
The problem, however, was not that these dismissive educators did not have evidence. The more fundamental problem was that they saw no need for evidence. According to their dogmas, children who did well on standardized tests were middle class. These children did well on such tests, therefore they were middle class.
Lack of evidence is not the problem. There was evidence on the occupations of the parents of the children at this school as far back in the early 1890s. As of academic year 1892-93, there were 83 known occupations of the parents of the children attending The M Street School. Of these occupations, 51 were laborers and was a doctor. That doesn't sound very middle class to me.
Over the years, a significant black middle class did develop in Washington and no doubt most of them sent their children to the M Street School or to Dunbar High School, as it was later called. But that is wholly different from saying that most of the children at that school came from middle-class homes.
During the later period, for which I collected data, there were far more children whose mothers were maids than there were whose fathers were doctors. For many years, there was only one academic high school for blacks in the District of Columbia and, as late as 1948, one-third of all black youngsters attending high school in Washington attended Dunbar High School. So this was not a "selective" school in the sense in which we normally use that term-- there were no tests to take to get in, for example-- even though there was undoubtedly in the sense that students who were serious went to Dunbar and those who were not had other places where they could while away their time, without having to meet high academic standards.
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